Overview

History -- Wikipedia.

Mike Bezilla notes several "claims to fame" belonging to the railroad:

  • Had a governor as its president? Pennsylvania Governor James A. Beaver of Bellefonte served as first president of the Buffalo Run, Bellefonte, and Bald Eagle Railroad, later reorganized as the Bellefonte Central.
  • Carried the President of the United States? President Dwight Eisenhower and his wife, Mamie, and their party rode to the Penn State campus over BFC rails aboard their private car, the Ferdinand Magellan on May 9, 1953.
  • Had an employee who was the first to receive benefits under the Railroad Retirement Act? In 1935, retired BFC car repair foreman William Billett received Railroad Retirement Board Check No. 1.
  • Originated more lime and stone than any other shortline in the nation? It originated approximately 14 million tons of quarry products during its corporate lifetime, including 383,737 tons in the peak year of 1925 and 381,183 tons in the second-highest year of 1955.
  • Had a locomotive that was designated the “All American Short-line Diesel”? Trains magazine bestowed that singular honor on BFC SW1200 No. 5624 in 1987.

Mike Bezilla also offers this "timeline" of the railroad:

1886 Buffalo Run, Bellefonte & Bald Eagle RR begins hauling iron ore from Strubles, near State College, to the Bellefonte Furnace Co.

1891 Bellefonte Furnace closes, BRB&BE unable to pay debts.

1892 BRB&BE bondholders foreclose on the railroad, reorganize it as the Bellefonte Central RR. One-mile extension built to the Penn State campus, thrice-daily passenger service inaugurated.

1896 Four-mile extension opened between State College and Pine Grove Mills.

1899 Bellefonte Furnace and Nittany Furnace return to blast, ore business booms, BFC builds three-mile branch to Scotia to access more ore.

1907 Chemical Lime Co. founded, will become BFC’s largest shipper.

1910-11 Bellefonte and Nittany Furnaces close as Lake Superior ore supplants native ores, iron-making ceases permanently in Bellefonte.

1914 Passenger volume peaks, 74,086 people carried.

1917 Service reduced to one mixed State College roundtrip Monday through Saturday owing to wartime shortages and highway competition.

1918 Interchange partner Central RR of Pennsylvania ceases operations, leaving PRR as BFC’s sole connection to outside world.

1919 Pine Grove Mills extension abandoned.

1925 Total annual carload freight volume peaks at 444,140 tons. BFC quits hauling the U.S Mail in response to declining postal reimbursements.

1928 ICC forces PRR to establish joint rates with BFC, makes shipping costs more equitable for State College customers. Last BFC-owned freight car retired from interchange service.

1930 BFC begins service between State College and Tyrone, 25 miles, mostly over former PRR Fairbrook Branch. New State College station opened. BFC purchases its first caboose.

1933 Fairbrook Branch service suspended when PRR refuses to interchange traffic at Tyrone, causing BFC to suffer serious financial loss. Stockholders install new management in wake of Fairbrook debacle.

1937 Chemical Lime opens new underground mine and lime plant along BFC, featuring nation’s longest rotary kiln (400 ft.)

1940 National Gypsum Co. buys Chemical Lime, soon consolidates operations at one site known as "the Gyp."

1945 Iron ore mining resumes at Scotia, BFC carries about 2,100 tons before mining ends.

1946 Regularly scheduled passenger service to State College ends. (See photo above of the State College station, looking east toward campus, circa 1947.)

1953 President Dwight Eisenhower arrives in State College via train. BFC purchases first diesel locomotive, an EMD SW9. Green and gray color scheme adopted.

1955 Annual net railway operating income peaks at $92,391 (from a gross of $433,684).

1956 Second diesel, SW1200, is delivered, steam retired.

1959 Penn State switches from rail to truck for delivery of power plant coal, daily train service to State College ends.

1963 First net operating loss in the railroad’s history ($717).

1964 Last passenger train operates over BFC, a PRR special from Pittsburgh for the Pitt-Penn State football game.

1974 Line to State College is abandoned, the Gyp becomes BFC's sole customer.

1975 Kyle Railways buys BFC.

1976 Domtar Inc. buys the Gyp.

1982 Domtar temporarily suspends production at the Gyp due to recession in steel industry, BFC runs last train.

1984 BFC is abandoned.

Contributing

The author will happily accept donations to this site -- images (jpg or gif), documents (pdf), etc. -- or loan of originals for scanning. Full credit will be given to the donor.

This site will only link to professional web sites dedicated to the subject matter, with an appropriate domain name. We will not link to "hosted sites" (like personal sites on ISP's) as they tend to be "here today and gone tomorrow". We would encourage any such site operator to contribute their content to this effort with full attribution.

Maps

1895 map of Railroads in Centre County.

Misc. Documents

Photographs

Jerry Britton's BFC Photo Gallery.

Suggested Reading

Michael Bezilla and Jack Rudnicki, Rails to Penn State: The Story of the Bellefonte Central (Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 2007). 310 pp., 50 photos, 25 maps.

Michael Bezilla, "Proxy for the New York Central: The Central Railroad of Pennsylvania," Milepost, Vol. 24 (October 2006): 14-19.

Michael Bezilla, "Battle for Coal," Railroad History, No. 194 (Spring-Summer 2006): 58-67.

Michael Bezilla, “The PRR’s Lewisburg & Tyrone Railroad: When Two Halves Didn’t Make a Whole,” Milepost, Vol. 22 (April 2004): 10-19; expanded and reprinted in The Keystone, Vol. 39 (Spring 2006): 18-40.

Jack Rudnicki and Michael Bezilla, “Freight Traffic on the Bellefonte Central Railroad,” National Railway Bulletin, Vol. 66 (2001): 4-33.

Michael Bezilla, “Philadelphia & Reading in the Nittany Valley,” The Bee Line, Vol. 23 (2001): 19-23.

Susan Lewis, “Shortline to State College,” Town & Gown, May 1984: 10-22; June 1984: 60-76.

Paul Simpson, “The Bellefonte Central Railroad,” Railway and Locomotive Historical Society Bulletin, No. 117 (October 1967): 7-17.

Woodrow W. Bierly, “Bellefonte Central Railroad,” Model Builder, Vol. 12 (October 1948): 6-10.

Russell B. Nesbitt, “A History of the Bellefonte Central Railroad,” Penn State Engineer, Vol. 10 (May 1929): 5-36.

Roster

LOCOMOTIVE ROSTER
No. Type Term Notes
1  4-6-0  1892 - 1902 Baldwin 1886, acquired 1892 from BRB&BE, sold 1902 to Pittsburgh Construction Co.
2  4-6-0  1892 - 1903 Baldwin 18??, ex-PRR class G1, acq. 1892, sold 1903.
3  4-6-0  1893 - 1902 Baldwin 1873 ex-PRR class G1 No. 836, acq. 1893, sold 1902 to Huntingdon & Broad Top Mtn.
4  2-8-0  1902 - 1912 Altoona? 1883, ex-PRR class H1, acq. 1902, sold 1912 to Brownsville Construction Co.
5  4-4-0  1902 - 1920 Altoona 1886, ex-PRR class D7a No. 1015, acq. 1902, sold 1920 to Kishacoquillas Valley RR.
6  2-8-0  1903 - 1910 Altoona? 1882, ex-PRR class H1, acq. 1903, sold 1910.
7  4-4-0  1904 - 1905 ????, acq. 1904, exchanged for No. 8, 1905.
8  4-4-0  1905 - 1912 Baldwin 1883, ex-Richmond Fredericksburg & Potomac, acq. 1905, sold 1912.
9  2-8-0  1910 - 1936 Altoona 1888, ex-PRR class H3 No. 4159, acq. 1910, scrapped 1936.
10  2-8-0  1910 - 1928 Altoona 1889, ex-PRR class H3 No. 1759, acq. 1910, retired 1926, scrapped 1928.
11  2-8-0  1912 - 1928 Altoona 1891, ex-PRR class H3 No. 196, acq. 1912, scrapped 1928.
12  4-6-0  1920 - 1921 ????. acq. 1920, sold 1921 to Louisiana & Northwestern.
13  2-8-0  1923 - 1930 Altoona 1888, ex-PRR class H3 No. 4158, acq. 1923, sold for scrap 1930.
14  2-8-0  1928 - 1931 Alco/Brooks, ??, ex-Pittsburgh Lisbon & Western No. 18 (?), acq. 1928, sold for scrap 1931.
15  2-8-0  1929 - 1940 Baldwin 1905, ex Lehigh & New England No. 18, acq. 1929, sold 1940 to C&PA RR.
16  2-8-0  1930 - 1940 Alco/R. I. 1902, ex-Detroit Toledo & Ironton No. 76, acq. 1930, sold 1940 to M&U RR.
17  2-8-0  1930 - 1947 Alco/R. I. 1902, ex-Detroit Toledo & Ironton No. 77, acq. 1930, scrapped 1947.
18  2-8-0  1938 - 1947 Richmond 1909, ex-C&O, ex-Va. Central No. 1022, acquired from dealer 1938, scrapped 1947.
19  2-8-0  1940 - 1949 Richmond 1906, ex-C&O, ex-Va. Central No. 901, acquired from dealer 1940, scrapped 1949.
20  2-8-0  1946 - 1953 Juniata,1913, ex-PRR class H9s No. 3485, purchased from PRR 1946, scrapped 1953.
21  2-8-0  1947 - 1953 Juniata 1908, ex-PRR class H9s No. 1691, purchased from PRR 1947, scrapped 1953.
22  2-8-0  1949 - 1956 Baldwin, ex-PRR class H9s No. 444, purchased from PRR 1949, scrapped 1956.
5323  SW9  1953 - 1979 Purchased 1953 new from EMD, off roster 1979, to South Central Tennessee RR.
5624  SW1200  1956 - 1985 Purchased 1956 new from EMD, off roster 1985, to South Central Tennessee RR.

 

FREIGHT ROSTER
No. Type Term Notes
501 Box    
       
       

 

PASSENGER ROSTER
No. Type Term Notes
3 Combine    
4 Coach    
7 Combine   Converted from a baggage car at Coleville.
15 Combine   Converted from a baggage car at Coleville.
100 (1st) Steam Powered Combine    
100 (2nd) Gas Powered Coach    
       

 

NON-REVENUE ROSTER
No. Type Term Notes
100 Plow   Russell snow plow.
101 Caboose (photo in 1953)  
102 Caboose (photo in 1947) Ex-Army staff car.
103 Caboose    
    (photo in 1955) Evans Autorailer.

 

Scale Models

None known, though acquired locomotives and rolling stock may be adapted.

Track Guide

The following is a tour of the BFC, starting in Bellefonte, Pa., and proceeding west to Struble. Click on the link of a location for more information (if available). If you have photos to contribute to various locations, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Full attribution will be provided. Thank you.

Main Line
NameDist.
from
Bellefonte1
Bellefonte 0.0
Coleville 2.0
Morris 3.0
Whitmer 5.0
Hunters 6.0
Fillmore 7.5
Briarly 9.0
Waddles 11.0
Graysdale 13.5
Mattern 14.3
Krumrine 17.2
Struble 19.0
State College 20.0
Red Bank and Scotia Branches (closed 1915)
NameDist.
from
Bellefonte1
Waddles 11.0
Graysdale 13.5
Mattern 14.3
Stormstown 15.5
Red Bank 17.0
Scotia Branch  
Scotia  
Pine Grove Mills Branch (closed 1919)
NameDist.
from
Struble2
Struble 0.0
Bloomsdorf  
Pine Grove Mills 3.5
Fairbrook Branch (1930-1941)
NameDist.
from
Struble2
Fairbrook
Remainder of branch ex-PRR.
5.4
Musser 7.1
Pennsylvania Furnace 8.9
Hostler 10.6
Marengo 12.4
Furnace Road 14.1
Dungarvin 15.8
Warriors Mark 18.2
Pennington 20.6
Eyer 21.6
Stover
Connection with PRR.
23.6
Scotia Branch (1942-1945)
NameDist.
from
Lagarde2
Lagarde 0.0
Scotia 3.0

1Stations and mile references from Rails to Penn State, page 41, as of 1893.

2Stations and mile references from Wikipedia.